When it comes to food vendors and food trucks, Long Island lags far behind the incredible NYC street-food scene, which even has its own awards. But these meals on wheels go far beyond the usual hot dog trucks and are worth the traffic.
Carmine’s of Little Italy
Spagnoli and Claremont Roads, Old Bethpage
For the last three years, Carmine Aquilino has parked his pickup truck and trailer near the entrance to the Battle Row Campgrounds, on this stretch of road lined with industrial buildings used as a cut through to Route 110 by the Huntington Hilton. Sure he has hot dogs and sausage and pepper heroes on his griddle, but he also has barbecued chicken sandwiches, cheesesteaks and a killer chicken and broccoli rabe hero. Carmine moved from Little Italy, where he grew up working the San Gennaro feast ever since he was 13 years old and where his family still mans a pastry booth. The meat and cheese on his cheesesteak become one, fusing under the red bell peppers and onion. But his chicken and broccoli rabe sandwich takes you by surprise. Overloaded with seasoned meat, mustard-y greens and slices of garlic, it’s a bold flavorful to find on the side of the road. You’ll need to sit at his picnic table or take it back to the office—this isn’t for one-hand expressway driving. Open Monday through Friday until 3:30 p.m.
Charlie’s Clam Bar
405 Main St., Inspiration Wharf, Port Washington
In my mind, the quintessential Long Island food truck isn’t parked on the service road of the Expressway. It’s sitting at the end of a pier on the water, the air smelling like clams, seagulls screaming, and it serves chowder and clams. A clam bar on wheels, that’s what this trailer of Chris Bollerman’s is, named after his great-grandfather, who had a joint by the same name in Port Washington back in the 1940s. Chris’ brand new operation has plenty of umbrella tables overlooking beautiful Manhasset Bay and serves fried calamari and flounder platters, clams baked or on the half shell, shrimp cocktail and a more-than-decent, 12-dollar lobster roll. I like the crab cake sandwich, lightly breaded and fried and loaded with sweet meat and the briny, tomato-based clam chowder that was more like bisque. Open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., closed on Monday and Tuesday and don’t expect to see him much past October.
The Hot Dawg Truck
Dibblee Drive and the Meadowbrook Parkway, Garden City
If there’s a cooler hot dog truck on LI than this, I want to know about it! We first wrote about this standout stand near the entrance to Lowe’s three years ago and since then the original owners have sold out to Donna Koslosky, but the endless choices with cartoon-based names hasn’t changed much. From the relatively simple bacon-and-cheese dog called the Augie Dawgie to the over-the-top Hong Kong Phooey covered with pineapple, bacon and teriyaki sauce, these franks—Sabrett or Boars Head, grilled or boiled—make for a special side-of-the-road lunch. Open 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday though Sundays.
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